Are You Sure You Want to be a Cop?

wright vehicle

Vehicle of a woman charged with assault with a dangerous weapon – attributed to Boston station WBZ-TV.

“But why are you arresting me? He’s the racist!” Melissa Becker was struggling and putting up quite a commotion as Police Officer Irene Atkins pressed her against the side of her car and handcuffed her.

“Need any assistance?” Atkins’s partner of four years Mike Shelton paused while taking a statement from the victim, 37-year-old Preston West.

“No, I’ve got her.” If it had been any other male officer, Irene would have taken the question as condescending, but Mike was one of the few in the Department who cared more about doing the job right than whether a cop was a man or a woman.

“Watch your head.” She eased the 25-year-old Becker into the backseat of the patrol car, holding the top of her head so she wouldn’t bump it as she entered. She’d already read the younger woman her rights and wanted to get this circus over with as fast as possible.

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Whose Voice Is It, Anyway?

men describe women chart

Found at Electric Lit online magazine (click on the image to see a larger version)

The chart posted above was acquired from the article If You’re Not Sure How a Male Author Would Describe You, Use Our Handy Chart over at the Electric Lit online magazine. As I understand it, the chart was created as a gag, and I found it pretty funny. In fact, I toyed with the idea of writing a story using the chart just as a joke.

Then it took on a life of its own on twitter, as reported at the same magazine, in an essay titled ‘Describe Yourself Like a Male Author Would’ Is the Most Savage Twitter Thread in Ages.

Apparently a male author claimed he could write authentic female characters, and was immediately challenged by Gwen C. Katz (@gwenckatz). A combination of hilarity, hostility, and moral angst ensued. I should say that after writing most of this missive, I noticed these articles were written last April, but they’ve showed up in my gmail inbox from Medium in the last couple of days. Wonder what the message is?

I decided to write about this because I’ve gotten a hold of a review copy of the To Be Men: Stories Celebrating Masculinity anthology edited by Sirius Métier and published by Superversive Press. It was published digitally about two weeks ago (as I write this) and seems to be doing pretty well, both relative to its Amazon reviews (five so far, and all five star ratings) and in terms of sales.

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Should We Burn Ray Bradbury’s Books?

f451

Book cover for Ray Bradbury’s novel “Fahrenheit 451.”

I just read an essay by Katie Naum at the Electric Lit website called The New ‘Fahrenheit 451’ Movie Fails to Reckon with Bradbury’s Racism.

First of all, I had no idea HBO had remade the film adaptation of Bradbury’s classic novel (I have seen the 1966 film version, and of course I’ve read the novel a number of times). Secondly, Ms. Naum and I seem to have read very different novels titled Fahrenheit 451 and authored by Ray Bradbury.

Here’s what I mean, quoting from Naum’s essay:

I still have that same copy of Fahrenheit 451 — a trade paperback edition printed circa 1993, whose creased cover and flammable pages are already yellowed and crumbling. I reread it prior to watching the new film version, starring Michael B. Jordan as protagonist Guy Montag, and Michael Shannon as his boss — and ultimately, the bad guy — Captain Beatty. The novel was largely as I remembered it, until I got to the end. At the back of the book, there are a few pages Bradbury wrote decades later, in 1979, where he gets into what he thinks the real threat to literature is. I’d forgotten that reading this coda as a child always left me feeling uncomfortable, in a way I couldn’t fully interpret yet.

He is angry at a “solemn young Vassar lady” who asked whether he might write more female characters. He is angry at other readers who disapprove of how he wrote “the blacks” in one of his stories. He is angry at “the Irish,” “the Chicano intellectuals,” at “every minority” that has some perspective on his stories at variance with his. In his own words, every last one of them “feels it has the will, the right, the duty to douse the kerosene, light the fuse…. Fire-Captain Beatty, in my novel Fahrenheit 451, described how the books were burned first by minorities, each ripping a page or a paragraph from this book, then that, until the day came when the books were empty and the minds shut and the libraries closed forever.”

Sorry for the lengthy quote, but I wanted to provide enough specific information to convey the issue at hand.

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Is There a God in the Moon?

dark moon

Photo credit: Duks Visuals

Tristan Schaefer wasn’t sure if this was magic or just the drugs kicking in. Vixia’s single moon Tatis always seemed unusually large in the sky when it was full, especially compared to Earth’s, but now it was impossibly reflective, as if the forest were perfectly mirrored and inverted on its surface.

“Izola!” Where was she? His wife had been with him just a second ago, but she had vanished and so had their campsite.

The Ambia Country spiritual excursion was supposed to be the highlight of their tour of the colony planet. Only one person out of two who entered the park were allowed to inhale the Mist to seek out the Way, the conduit to the spirit realm. Izola was supposed to keep him rooted in the physical plane so he wouldn’t lose himself in the vision. She promised she would be with him every second, but it couldn’t have been more than fifteen minutes since he first inhaled the psychedelic they’d purchased with their tickets at the park entrance . Where could she have gone?

“Merhaba, Traveler.”

He’d been staring at a flight of birds crossing the gray and black moon and hadn’t noticed the man approach. He was an Indigenous. No one knew what they called themselves, and the colonists had to call them something.

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Be Careful What You Tweet

roseanne barr

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – MARCH 23: Roseanne Barr at the “Roseanne” Press Conference at the Four Seasons Hotel on March 23, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Vera Anderson/WireImage)

Warning: This is a commentary, not a piece of fiction. If you came here for the fiction, this brief essay may not be for you.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the Roseanne Barr major twitter gaffe that got her show cancelled, the whole Colin Kaepernick “taking the knee” protests, and how ABC and the NFL have respectively responded to them, all in terms of Free Speech Rights.

First let’s get something out of the way. What’s the short definition of Free Speech Rights? According to Wikipedia, it is:

The First Amendment of the United States Constitution declares, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

It’s actually a lot more complicated and nuanced than that, but let’s roll with what I’ve just quoted.

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Returning to Life

ferry

Photo credit: Dorothy

They seemed just two more Asian tourists sitting on a bench watching the ferry at Angel Island.

“When did you die here?” During her lifetime, she would never have asked such as direct question of a man, but death is very liberating.

“1899.” He was staring at the ferry and the multinational conglomeration of visitors, all happily chattering and oblivious to the history they were walking upon. “I had been a dock worker and got the plague. They sent me here for quarantine, but I was also sent here to die. You?”

“1922 when the island was an immigration station. I was suspected of having a disease, but I actually got a parasite from another Chinese immigrant. I suffered on the island eighteen months before I died.”

“How many others like us do you think are here?” He turned toward her finally, noticing that like him, she was dressed in modern clothing.

“Too many, but most won’t let go of the past.”

“If you’re ready, we can rejoin the living.”

They stood and held hands. “Yes, let’s.”

I wrote this for the FFfAW Challenge Week of April 3, 2018 hosted by Priceless Joy. The idea is to use the image above as a prompt to craft a piece of flash fiction between 100 and 175 words long. My word count is 175.

I was stuck about where the photo was actually taken, so I made something up.

When I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area, I visited Angel Island many times. It’s accessible by ferry and you can take bicycles and ride around the entire island. It has a very interesting history, some of it very grim.

You can read the details of both when the island was used as a Quarantine Station and later as an Immigration Station (people could be held on the island for anywhere between two weeks and two years) for the context of my two characters.

In this case, I’ve given my couple a second chance at life, though I’ve kept the mechanism of how deliberately vague. If you can learn to let go of the pain of the past, you might find your way back to a new life and the rest of your future.

Guilty confession. I read this story before crafting my own and yes, it influenced me. My bad.

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to InLinkz.com.

Metzger’s World

planet

Image: hongkiat.com

“…6:00 in the morning yawning and laying down next to you…”

“Come here, Kiara. About time you got home…wait. What’s wrong?” Travis Bridges pulled his wife close to him in their bed. It was six in the morning ship’s time but she’d just come off of her duty shift planetside at the Metzger colony.

Kiara buried her face in Travis’ chest and sobbed. He could barely hear her muffled words, “It was horrible, Trav. Chief Spencer tried to warn us, but none of us thought it would be that bad.”

“What are you talking about? What’s so bad about servicing the colony’s power distribution system? I mean, we do contract with the colony worlds in this sector to maintain their tech.”

“You don’t know about Metzger, do you?” She looked up. Her dark eyes dilated in the dim light were ebony pools he could swim in.

“I read the general briefing on the colony. They’re isolationists and a little xenophobic and…”

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The Man Over the Far Side of the Moon

Apollo 15

Photo of the Apollo 15 command module above the Moon piloted by Al Worden – Photo credit: NASA

Air Force Major Ezekiel “Zeke” Johnson watched the LEM drop away from the Command Module as he approached the terminator that would take him over the far side of the Moon.

“Hey, Zeke. You hearing what I’m hearing?” Colonel Clay Philips, the mission’s commander sounded like a kid on Christmas morning when anyone else would have at least been a little bit worried.

“I sure do, and I remember the briefing. It’s just interference.”

“That’s right.” Captain Brian Osborne, sitting in the LEM’s number two seat chimed in. “It’s caused by VHF radio interference between the LEM and the Command Module. Really does sound like alien music, though.”

Zeke laughed. “I’ll try to keep that in mind when I’m out of radio contact with you and Earth for the next hour or so.”

“Not scared of those nasty old BEMs, are you Zeke?” Philips was laughing with him or was that at him?

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The Switch

mlk

The Google “doodle” for Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2018

Nevada Drivers Licences

Corey March
1983 Escondido Street, Apt. 2A
Las Vegas, NV 89119
Sex M, Hgt 5’11, Wgt 160
Eyes Blu, Hair Brn
DOB 02/27/1997

Eddie Brown
5549 Doolittle Avenue, Apt. 11
Las Vegas, NV 89108
Sex M, Hgt 6’1, Wgt 200
Eyes Brn, Hair Blk
DOB 06/21/1997

“Let no man pull you low enough to hate him.” — Martin Luther King Jr.

There was a time when a person’s race might have been listed on a state driver’s license, but those days are gone. The tiny mug shot on the left side of the document tells the tale, assuming it says anything at all. However, Corey’s driver’s license photo shows a smiling white kid with the tips of his blond hair dyed purple while Eddie’s photo shows an equally cheerful looking African-American youth.

Corey woke up realizing it was Monday and hating that fact because his first class, American History, was at nine in the morning. He didn’t like mornings, especially when he’d been up past eleven drinking beer and playing “Doom” with his roommate Johnny. Oddly enough, he didn’t have a hangover and didn’t even feel all that tired, but those clues weren’t sufficient.

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The True Origin of Captain America

will smith captain america

Actor Will Smith depicted as Captain America

“You must be the puniest nigger I’ve ever seen, boy. What’s your name again?”

“Johnson, Samuel G., Private, Sir.”

Sam Johnson was the most unlikely soldier in his unit, but then again, he would have been an unlikely soldier in any army in the world. He’d suffered from a number of ailments in childhood including rheumatic fever. His family was poor. Papa died when he was only a baby and Mama had to work three jobs just to keep him fed. They had no money for doctors and his old Aunt Bessie said it was only Mama’s love that kept him alive.

He grew up but not very much. He was tall, but thin, his clothes fitting him like loose blankets. Because of his ill-health, he wasn’t fit for much hard work, but what he lacked in muscle, he made up for in heart and determination.

Like most colored folk, he expected the white folk to call him “nigger,” “coon,” and the like, and he took more than his fair share of beatings, not just because he was a colored man, but because he fought back. To say he fought back meant that he had the will, but he could no more throw a solid punch than Josephine Baker could win the Miss America Pagent.

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